July 22, 2016
Dear JBU Community,
It is with deep sadness that I share with you that Don Soderquist passed away yesterday due to complications from heart surgery undertaken earlier in the week. Jo and the children were with him at his bedside.
Don has been a part of JBU for almost 35 years. He served on JBU’s board of trustees from 1982-2009, and served as chair of the board from 1991-2002. He was elected trustee emeritus in 2009, and he consistently kept coming to the board meetings even as an emeritus, including the board retreat in April at Greystone where he spoke to the current board members about what it truly means to be a trustee of JBU’s mission.
In 1998, Don partnered with JBU President Lee Balzer to found Soderquist Leadership, a leadership development center, which has served over 50,000 people in the last 18 years. Don was always moved by the way in which the programs at Soderquist Leadership and the education at JBU changed people’s lives, and he gave generously of his time, his wisdom, and his resources to encourage that life transformation.
JBU formally honored Don on three different occasions: in 1993, with an honorary doctorate; in 2005, by naming the new business building, the Soderquist Business Center; and in 2014, by dedicating the Donald G. Soderquist College of Business, in honor of Don’s life work in developing people and practicing ethical leadership in the business world. Don, of course, honored many of us almost every time we saw him: with a probing question about the career plans of a business student, with an encouraging word to a basketball player, with a challenging story for a middle manager, with an anecdote about Mr. Sam for a Walton Scholar, with a sense of optimism about what was possible, and with a prayer of gratitude for God’s grace in all of our lives. Don had a knack for making people feel valued, loved and appreciated.
It is with a particular personal sadness that I bring you this news because Don was my uncle. The Soderquist and Pollard families grew up together for the first 18 years of my life, and one of my earliest memories, probably when I was four or five, was of a Bible memory contest organized by my Uncle Don in our church basement. He has been encouraging my spiritual life ever since, and it has been one of the great joys of our lives that God brought us to Arkansas over 12 years ago, and gave me the chance to be with him, and my Aunt Jo and the entire family. Carey and I will miss him dearly, and am grateful for the Godly heritage of my extended family.
I would ask you to pray for the Soderquist family and for all of us who are grieving Don’s death. But know also this, “We do not grieve as those who have no hope. For we believe (and we know that Don believed) that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.” I Thess. 4:13-14.
All God’s blessings,
Chip and Carey